The Origins of the Arques School

February, 2023 OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS, RAYMOND CAGE AND BOB DARR WILL PRESENT SIGNIFICANT LEGAL DOCUMENTS FROM THE VOLUMINOUS FILES OF DONLON ARQUES. BOB DARR: During the 1980s, the aging Don Arques and his wife Verna were making plans for their estate.  Without familial heirs, they considered how best to distribute their estmore>>


This historical project is being spear-headed by some of us who came of age in the nineteen-sixties Bay Area, and others who settled here during the tumultuous and exciting decades of the sixties through the eighties.  The volume of documents about the Arques family is so large that a number of us have decided to work together with the intentiomore>>

Restoring Freda’s Deck, Cabin, and Transom

It was in late 1996 and early 1997 that the Arques School of Traditional Boatbuilding first considered taking on the restoration of Freda, the West Coast's oldest working yacht.  Our approach was to remove a few planks midway down on the starboard side of the boat to examine the condition of Freda's frames.  Freda's interior ceiling (the layer more>>

Freda Lines Project

The photographs below depict the process of capturing the shape of Freda's hull.  This is known as "picking  up the lines,"  meaning the design lines needed for lofting a vessel (drawing it full size) and for making an accurate set of plans that would preserve Freda's hull shape for posterity.  The Arques School instructor and students worked imore>>

Building a Replica of Syd Foster’s Sloop Dolphin

  APRIL 1, 2024,  DOLPHIN GETS DECK BEAMS AND CABIN PATTERNS   ABOVE; DOLPHIN READY FOR PLUGGING AND CAULKING OF THE SEAMS     MARCH 15, 2023, DOLPHIN GETS HER FIRST SHUTTER PLANKS!   Dolphin moves forward with more planking from the coast fir tree that we cut in 2018.  Loon, which cmore>>

Loon, A Fast Wooden Day-Sailor

Loon is a 20ft long one-ton design, a luxurious traditional wooden day-sailor intended for speed.  She will be rigged as a modern marconi sloop and fitted with a retractable bulb keel.  Loon was designed by Robert Darr in the Arques School's Boat Design Class.  more>>


        Freda is the oldest sailboat on the West Coast. She was built in 1885 in Belvedere for local racing and yachting. Freda was completely restored by the Arques School of Traditional Boatbuilding in Sausalito.  The School cut sawn frames from curved Black Locust trees.  The stem and sternpost are Pepperwoomore>>

Harbor Tug

August 2000 Stem for the Tug Boat... made from Pepperwood The "Don Arques" tug boat is the first motor-powered boat built at the Arques School. This vessel was designed around a large three-cylinder Hicks engine, one of Don Arques's favorite possessions. The tug boat was designed by Bob Darr with the Traditional Boat Design Class. Local tumore>>

Black Cat – The Richardson Bay Catboat

Black Cat was designed by Robert Darr in the Arques School's Design Program for use in sheltered waters. It is a fifteen foot long open catboat built with lapstrake planking, copper fastened. The boat was designed to be fast, maneuverable, and beautiful. This is the first Black Cat. The raked, curved transom is made of local pepperwood, white oamore>>


Eleanor is a 21 foot long keel sloop designed by Robert Darr in the school's Traditional Boat Design Class. She is a stout double-ender suitable for day sailing around San Francisco Bay, or for ocean sailing. Eleanor is 3' deep with 6'8" of beam. She'll be rigged as a marconi sloop. Her contruction is plank on sawn and bent frames. The sawn frames,more>>